God is Moral Part One
An earlier part of our study noted that God created the universe with a twofold, fixed, unchanging, inflexible order. That order conforms to and embodies the ultimate wisdom that God created and used to bring the universe into existence. Human experience and scientific research have demonstrated that an aspect of that order is a fixed, unchanging, inflexible order of natural law. That order of natural law is no respecter of persons, regardless of their position or status in life. Any violation of that order can exact a high price.
The other aspect is a fixed, unchanging, inflexible order of moral law. It, too, is no respecter of persons, and any violation can also exact a high price.
Indications that God Is Moral and Mankind Exists in the Image of God
The fact that God created the universe with this fixed order of moral law indicates that God is moral. Other factors signify that truth as well. For example, Scripture states six times that God created mankind in His own image, or likeness (Gen. 1:26–27; 5:1; 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:7; Jas. 3:9). The fact that four of these six statements are in the first book of the Bible may indicate God’s desire to emphasize this truth at the very beginning to impress readers with the fact that mankind’s creation in the image, or likeness, of God has considerable significance.
Mankind’s creation in the image of God does not mean that human beings are like God physically. God is a spirit being by nature (Jn. 4:24), and a spirit does not have flesh and bones (Lk. 24:39). Thus it is not deity’s nature to have a physical body. Because God has no physical body, the “image of God” in man cannot refer to the physical aspect of human beings.
The fact that God created mankind in His image means He made humans to be personal and moral beings. The beings (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) who constitute the Godhead are persons, possessing intellect, emotions, and will. In addition, they are moral, possessing a perfect sense of morality. When God created mankind, He created humans as persons who possess intellect, emotions, and will. He also created them as moral beings, responsible to Him for their conduct. Thus it is in the personal and moral senses that human beings exist in God’s image. The fact that God created people as moral beings, responsible to Him for their conduct, indicates that God is moral.
God’s creation of mankind in His own image is extremely significant for several reasons.
1. It indicates that people are the highest form of God’s earthly creation. Nowhere does the Bible declare that God created animals or plants in His image. It reserves that statement exclusively for humans (Gen. 1:26–27). The fact that mankind was created in God’s image, but animals and plants were not, signifies that people, by nature, are distinct from all other earthly forms of life. Humans are personal, moral beings; animals and plants are not. Thus it is mankind’s creation in the image of God that gives human beings genuine dignity and worth.
As personal, moral beings, mankind is superior to all other forms of life in God’s earthly creation. In the personal realm, mankind’s intellect is different from and superior to that of all animal and plant life. Only people can use mathematics; compose music; paint pictures; write books; discover and develop medical cures for diseases; design and build such things as airplanes, computers, telephones, space satellites, and televisions; and communicate concepts by arranging words in logical order in sentences and paragraphs.
Humanity’s uniqueness in the moral realm is seen in the fact that human beings are the only earthly creatures to whom God has revealed moral absolutes and forbidden them to violate those absolutes. The fact that God has revealed moral absolutes to humans and forbids them to violate these absolutes is another indication that God is moral.
2. Mankind’s creation in the image of God also provides the basis for humanity’s dominion over the earth. Genesis 1:26–27 reveals that it was in the context of God’s decision to create mankind in His own image that He determined to give humans ruling authority over all other earthly, living beings and the earth itself.
God created the entire universe, including the earth and all its forms of life, to be a universal Kingdom over which He would rule as the ultimate Sovereign or King. God created mankind to be His representative, with the responsibility to administer His rule on His behalf over the earthly province of His universal Kingdom. In order for mankind to know how God wanted that rule to be administered, humans had to be personal beings with whom God could communicate intelligently. In order for mankind to administer God’s rule in accord with His moral nature and the fixed order of moral law that He established in the universe, humans had to be morally responsible. The fact that God gave humanity dominion over all other earthly, living things on the basis of mankind being made in God’s image indicates again that God regarded mankind as distinct from and superior to all other earthly forms of life.
God brought mankind into existence by creating the first two humans and giving them sexuality: one male (Adam) and one female (Eve) (Gen. 1:26–27; 2:7, 18, 20–23). Based on their sexuality, God instituted marriage between male and female (Gen. 2:24). Many centuries later Jesus responded to a question about marriage by answering,
Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate (Mt. 19:4–6).
Jesus thereby asserted that the Genesis account revealed that God instituted marriage because He created human beings as male and female.
The fact that God ordained marriage because He created male and female people prompts several conclusions.
- God—not mankind, human government, or society—is the one who created human sexuality and instituted marriage. Therefore, He alone has the authority to determine what constitutes marriage and the proper use of sexuality.
- God intends all human sexual relationships to be male-female.
- God intends human male-female sexual relationships to take place totally within the bonds of marriage.
- God instituted marriage exclusively for human, male-female sexual union. He did not institute marriage for anything else.
- Jesus’ assertion indicates that God intends marriage to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman.
When God created human beings as male and female and instituted marriage as a result, He commanded them to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:27–28). He thereby indicated that He intends (1) for the male-female sexual union within the bonds of marriage to be His means of propagating mankind throughout history and (2) that stable, male-female marriage be the foundation of society and the nurturing haven for each new generation of people.
Because God created humans in His own image as personal and moral beings, children of each generation need that stable, nurturing haven with a male father and female mother for proper intellectual, emotional, volitional, and moral development.
Genesis records the fact that, when God created mankind as male and female, He revealed the fixed, unchanging, inflexible moral order that He, the sovereign King of the universe, determined and established for human sexuality. Any deviation from that order would be a violation and perversion of what God intended and would have dire consequences for mankind.
Genesis 1:31 indicates that, after God completed the creation of His universal Kingdom, including the earth and all its plant and animal life-forms and mankind, He “saw everything that He had made”; and His evaluation was that “it was very good.” In other words, no part of God’s Kingdom had turned against Him yet. However, it did not remain that way for long.
The Tragic Change
Not long after God created them, the original man and woman made a fateful decision that would have long-range, tragic consequences for them, all of mankind, and their earthly realm. Before that decision they were favorably disposed toward God. Thus they enjoyed fellowship with Him, voluntarily submitted to His sovereign rule as their King, and lived together as husband and wife in marriage, as God intended. As God’s earthly representative, Adam administered God’s rule over the earth in accord with God’s instructions.
But Satan introduced the idea that, if they would rebel against God’s rule, they would “be like God” (Gen. 3:5). This lie prompted the first man and woman to reject God’s rule over them and assert their own self-rule. In other words, mankind decided to exercise dominion over the earth and itself the way it would choose, not the way God intended.
That fateful decision triggered several tragic consequences, including the following: First, the first man and woman experienced a radical spiritual change internally. They lost their favorable disposition toward God and replaced it with a confirmed disposition of enmity against God and His rule. The apostle Paul described that disposition as follows: “The carnal mind is enmity against God,” and he indicated that it does not submit to God’s rule and is incapable of doing so (Rom. 8:7). This radical, internal, spiritual change in Adam and Eve was demonstrated by their reaction to God when He came to talk with them after their decision. For the first time since their creation, they ran and hid. They wanted nothing to do with God.
Since it was the first man and woman who experienced this spiritual change, and since humanity reproduces after its kind, each child procreated through the union of a man and a woman is conceived and born with the disposition of enmity against God and His rule. Thus david wrote, “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Ps. 51:5; cf. Ps. 58:3; Prov. 22:15; Isa. 48:8). Since this disposition of enmity against God and His rule is sin, it often is called the “sin nature.” The Bible sometimes refers to it with the noun sin (Jer. 17:1; Rom. 6:1—8:4).
Second, mankind became subject to disease, deformity, and physical death (Gen. 5; Rom. 5:12; 6:23; 1 Cor. 15:21).
Third, the woman became subject to greatly multiplied sorrow and conception, plus pain in childbirth (Gen. 3:16).
Fourth, the ground was cursed and began to produce thorns and thistles, making the man’s work of growing food more difficult (Gen. 3:17–19).
Fifth, all creation was subjected to vanity (Rom. 8:18–23).
Sixth, as a result of rejecting God’s intended way for dominion to be exercised over the earth, mankind began to abuse the earth’s environment.
Seventh, influenced by their disposition of enmity against God and His rule, people began to violate and pervert His fixed order of moral law.
Part 2 will examine examples of that violation and perversion.